Skip to content
Sneaker News

Nike Air Force 1 - the history of a sneaker icon

April 30, 2020 5:00 PM
Nike Air Force 1 - the history of a sneaker icon

The Nike Air Force 1. Actually, that's enough, right? I'm just kidding, of course, but let's be honest: Who doesn't love this Nike silhouette? It has been a fixture on the streets of the world for years. An icon who has already experienced so much. From sport to fashion - come to stay! And what else do icons like the Nike Air Force bring with them - a significant history!

And this is the history of the Nike Air Force 1 we want to tell you today! So get some popcorn and get into a comfortable position. We'll take you through time and present the eventful history of the Nike classic and its highlights.

The history of the Nike Air Force 1: How it all began

We are in 1982, Michael Jackson releases his album Thriller, Helmut Kohl becomes German Chancellor and Bruce Kilgore brings his design of a new sneaker silhouette to the public. The Nike Air Force 1 was born. And here our story takes its course:

A few years earlier, in 1979 the brand launched the Tailwind with the Swoosh. The first running shoe from Nike that featured the now famous Nike Air technology. What does this have to do with our Air Force? Kilgore also took advantage of this absolute novelty in the world of sports shoes and incorporated it into its Air Force silhouette. The sneaker was designed for basketball. A popular sport that benefits like no other from good cushioning in the footwear due to the many jumps and sprints. And tada: The Nike Air Force 1 went down in the history of the sport as the first basketball shoe with Air cushioning. Also the sneaker revolutionized that history from day one. It wasn't long before the big names in basketball were playing in our Air Force.

Nike Air Force 1

But what makes Air technology so special? We have already mentioned the good damping. Back then, the idea of integrating 'Air' into sneakers to improve the running feeling was revolutionary. A significant step in the history of sport and, as we know today, still pioneering almost 40 years later! At that time, the 'Air' still consisted of a layer in the sole of the shoes filled with a mixture of noble gases.

From sport to pop culture to the streets of the world

We all know it: Trends! Once you have set them in motion, they are like wildfire. That's what happened to our Nike Air Force 1 over the years in its history. From the basketball court he quickly made it into the hip hop scene. The demand for the sneaker grew more and more and soon the Air Force also found enthusiasts outside the sport. Soon an Air Force 1 Low model was introduced in addition to the High version. From then on there was no turning back and above all: There was no stopping. After a few short doubts Nike agreed: We will make more out of it!

Different colorways followed and the Air Force 1 was revised again and again. But it never lost its most important features completely. The iconic silhouette, the upper made of high quality leather, the toe box and the Swoosh, together with the rubber outsole. And with small updates it even gained even more quality over the years. The shape and fit on the foot have been adjusted, the leather has been covered here and there, because that offered the possibility for many more colors than the natural fiber itself and also the Air cushioning has enjoyed improvements over the years. So it went on, quickly and successfully!

Unsplash by Jana Sabeth

Fun fact: If you look closely, you'll see that in the course of history the Swoosh on the Nike Air Force 1 has changed in shape just a little bit.

At the beginning, nobody could have known how important the character would become. But back to our history. I'd like to interrupt it at this point, because what you still need to know: The Nike Air Force even got their own songs written for them. What do you say now? Let's listen to what rapper Nelly has to say about our sneaker in this case:

YouTube by Nelly Official

And today?

In 2013 the Nike Air Force really boomed all over the world! Maybe some of you still remember it. I wonder if Bruce Kilgore imagined this when he was sitting at his desk? We don't know for sure, but the Jordan 2 is from the same pen, so it is certain that great things were created at this desk.

Today the classic white version of the Air Force is still the most popular. It is still an icon. Not only the high quality, comfortable leather, the clean and historical character of the sneaker, but also the fact that it can be combined with almost any style is what makes this shoe so special. On the streets you can see the Nike Air Force casually, with jeans, street style, summer dress, suit, to… I think you got a picture, the sneaker just has that little bit of specialness, there are no limits in style.


Our history of the Nike Air Force 1 is coming to an end. Meanwhile there are countless variations of the sneaker. Every color you want, high, low and mid models, collaborations, new materials… Also this list can be continued endlessly. One thing is for sure: Today there are so many Air Force 1 models, there is something for everyone! You do not believe me? Then have a look at our Nike Air Force collection. Besides the classic leather models there are also models made of textile, primeknit, suede and so on. Also versions especially for women were developed. With the Nike Air Force Shadow a variation of the sneaker is very popular today! The special thing here? The shadow look. This means that important design elements are doubled on the Air Force Shadow models. For example the Swoosh, the heel tab or the Air sign on the outsole.

Air Force 1

Nike Air Force 1 - the story of an icon

So we have reached the end of our story so quickly. Meanwhile the hashtag Nike Air Force has more than one million entries on Instagram. Why? We'll know for sure after this story.

The sneaker has even made it into the art scene and is painted quite professionally by so-called customizers. And Nike itself gives their Air Force an artistic look with their 'Tear Away' models:

The Nike Air Force 1 is also a big issue for us. That's why you can find countless entries, stories and information about the Nike icon in our Newsblog. We wear our sneakers every day as a matter of course. Some people are more concerned about their outfit, others less. But what we all get: A companion! Our sneakers literally follow us every step of the way. Sometimes they make our eventful everyday life a little bit easier, the outfit a little bit better and every adventure a little bit more exciting. Tell your very own story with your Nike Air Force 1!